Getting started with Microsoft Office 365

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Microsoft’s Office 365 is a suite of online and offline productivity tools. The Ministry funds Microsoft to provide the Professional Plus (ProPlus) version of Office 365. This guide is intended to provide a step-by-step overview of the one-off process to sign up a school or individual to use the Office 365 product suite. It should be able to be followed by people with a reasonable amount of technical ability.


Useful Links

Signing up

Which Office version?

Accessing Professional Learning

Once you have read this guide we encourage you to contact the Connected Learning Advisory for additional personal assistance. We aim to provide consistent, unbiased advice and are free of charge to all state and state-integrated New Zealand schools and kura. Our advisors can help with all aspects outlined in this guide as well as provide peer review of the decisions you reach before you take your next steps.

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Call us for personalised service on 0800 700 400

Make a personal inquiry via our online form at



Useful Links Icon

Useful Links

Ministry’s Microsoft software for schools webpage - information about the Microsoft software available such as how to get it, who can use it, and the assurance benefits offered.

Microsoft’s NZ School’s Agreement webpage - links to useful resources related to supporting schools in New Zealand with deploying and using Microsoft’s software.

Deploying MS Education Cloud Solution Videos - how to create an Office365 Education Tenant, setting up Azure AD and Student Data Sync, deploying MS Teams for Education

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Signing up

There are two ways for NZ teachers and students to sign up to Office 365


The school’s technical support administrator signs up the school as a whole and creates an account for all users that require one. This process can be automated by using the free Azure AD Connect service to connect the directory of users running on the school’s current server with Microsoft’s cloud-based Azure directory.


A teacher, administrator or student signs up as an individual using a valid school email address. This provisions all services to the user with the exception of email (so as to avoid any interruption of school email services if hosted elsewhere)

In most cases, signing up the whole school makes sense as this will provide greater functionality, particularly around collaboration. Both options are outlined below:

1 - Signing up as a school

You may already have Office 365 set up as a school. If so, you will be able to sign in at and will be able see the People icon containing members of your school.

If the school has not already been set up, get support from Datacom to carry out the initial licensing process:


0800 225 5426

ICT Helpdesk

0800 CALLICT (0800 225 542) or 09 356 3167

Schools will benefit from working with a technology partner to set up and deploy Office 365. To find a partner, use Microsoft’s Partner Network directory.

2 - Signing up as an individual teacher or student

Any teacher or student with any valid New Zealand school email account can sign up for Office 365 by visiting the Office 365 Education webpage. This will give access to students or teachers to download and install the Office software on up to 5 devices as well as provide the browser-based Office apps. It will not provide an email account or other access to school-based shared resources.

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Which Office version?

There are two versions of the Office software applications that schools can deploy to eligible devices

Office 2016 is accessed from Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Centre. This also provides the software installation packages used by technicians to deploy the applications over a network onto eligible devices. Office 2016 is provided as a one time purchase paid for by the Ministry. This is no longer the recommended deployment method, as new features are released directly to Office365 subscription based installations (see below).

Office 365 ProPlus is accessed from an individual’s webpage or by using Office 365 ProPlus deployment tools to deploy the applications over a network onto eligible shared or single-user devices. Office 365 ProPlus is provided as a subscription paid for by the Ministry.

There are a number of differences between Office 365 ProPlus and Office 2016 applications. Critically, the Office 365 ProPlus version is updated more frequently than the Office 2016 version installed via Volume Licensing. This means that if you use both deployment methods in your school they can become out of step with each other as new features are added. While deploying Office 2016 via Volume Licensing was the only appropriate method to install Microsoft Office in the past, it should now be considered a legacy method. Instead, Microsoft strongly recommends that schools migrate all of their users to Office 365 ProPlus so that students, teachers and administrators are all using exactly the same version of the software.

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Accessing Professional Learning

Professional learning about the Microsoft products can be accessed through:

Microsoft Education Community - Online training, product specific skills, lesson outlines and community interaction

Microsoft Innovative Educator Programme - Teachers can have their skills and experienced recognized in the MIE programme and access specialized training opportunities.

Microsoft Learning Consultants - No cost professional development for schools and teachers, delivered by qualified teachers that are experts with Microsoft Office365 and related tools.


This guide has been produced in response to a number of specific queries about getting started with Office 365 from schools. It should not be read as a recommendation or endorsement of any specific product. The Connected Learning Advisory is a Ministry of Education supported service that provides schools with technology information relevant to their queries and does not recommend one product over another.

CC IconThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Produced for the Ministry of Education’s Connected Learning Advisory by CORE Education


Date Last Updated:

October 5th 2018


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